Weekly Space Hangout: Untying an Early "Cosmic Knot" with Dr. Andrey Vayner


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Streamed live on Nov 9, 2022.

Host: Fraser Cain ( @fcain ) Special Guest: Since its final commissioning and being placed in service, JWST has been delivering on its promise to provide unprecedented insight into the most distant — and oldest — regions of our Universe. Whether it's providing a new view of our nearby neighbor Jupiter, or sussing out never-before-seen details of the iconic Eagle Nebula and its Pillars of Creation, let's face it - the imagery so far has been nothing less than stunning! But more importantly, the data being collected by JWST's onboard instrumentation are allowing scientists the ability to peer back in time to study the oldest cosmic structures while they are still in their infancy, potentially unlocking never-before understood processes that have led to the Universe as we know it today.

This week we are joined by Dr. Andrey Vayner, a member of a multinational team led by Dominika Wylezalek of Heidelberg University (Germany) that has been studying SDSS J165202.64+172852.3, an “extremely red” QUASAR that dates back to the earliest days of the Universe, some 11.5 billion years ago. Using data collected by NIRSpec, JWST's near infrared spectrograph (https://webb.nasa.gov/content/observa..., the team has been able to confirm the presence of not just one, but three, companion galaxies of the QUASAR that are actively in the process of merging.

Andrey is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University Physics and Astronomy Department. He obtained his Ph.D. from UC San Diego in 2019. He studies how galaxies and supermassive black holes evolve over cosmic time using advanced ground and space-based telescopes. His current focus is on early-release science observations with JWST, studying the most powerful active galactic nuclei that are heavily obscured by dust.

Want to learn more about this exciting research? Visit:



Want to take a deeper dive? You can find the team's paper on Arxiv:


To follow Andrey and learn more about his research, visit: https://astrovayner.com/ and you can also follow him on Twitter: @astrovayner

Regular Guests:

Dr. Nick Castle ( @PlanetaryGeoDoc / https://wanderingsci.com/ )

C.C. Petersen ( http://thespacewriter.com/wp/ & @AstroUniverse & @SpaceWriter )

Beth Johnson - SETI Institute ( @SETIInstitute & @planetarypan )

This week's stories:

- Why does the Moon turn red during a lunar eclipse?

The photo Fraser talks about:


- Where did Earth get its water?

The NIST X-ray/neutron animation:


- Plants in spaaaaace!

- Psyche mission, why? Psyche was almost cancelled & what will we learn?

- Why can auroras turn pink?

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